Ballard developed a love of the sea and what lies beneath it from an early age. Over the years, he has conducted over one hundred expeditions, and developed technology for use in deep sea discovery.
Throughout his career Ballard has conducted more than a hundred deep-sea expeditions, using both manned and unmanned vehicles. A 1977 expedition he led in the Galapagos Rift found hydrothermal vents, with exotic ecosystems, in the seafloor, a major scientific discovery.
Born June 30, 1942, in Wichita, Kansas, Ballard grew up in San Diego. "I grew up wanting to be Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," he said. Ballard has a Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics from the University of Rhode Island. He spent 30 years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he helped develop manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles for marine research. He went on to develop telecommunications technology to create "telepresence" for his JASON Project, which allows hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren to accompany him from afar on undersea explorations around the globe.
Ballard has 13 honorary degrees and six military awards; he is a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He received the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal in 1996 for "extraordinary accomplishments in coaxing secrets from the world's oceans and engaging students in the wonder of science." He has published 16 books, numerous scientific papers and a dozen articles in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine. Ballard also has been featured in several National Geographic Television programs, including the record-breaking Secrets of the Titanic.
Ballard's most recent discoveries include the Mediterranean Sea finds of sunken remains of ships along ancient trade routes (1997) and of two ancient Phoenician ships off Israel?the oldest shipwrecks ever found in deep water (1999). Ballard is continuing a project in the Black Sea that seeks evidence of a great flood, linked to the Noah's ark legend, that may have struck the region thousands of years ago.